What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state that can be cultivated in which one is acutely aware of one’s present experience and responds to this experience in a non-judgmental and non-reactive way. The practice of mindfulness often leads to a sense of balance and psychological well-being (Carmody & Baer, 2008). To cultivate mindfulness a person does not try to create any particular state of mind, but attempts to just become aware of each thought, feeling, or sensation as it arises in the present moment and to let each thought, sensation, or feeling pass away without judgment or attachment (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002). While this is a simple practice, it can be both challenging and transformative.

In the past 30 years, the effects of mindfulness meditation have been studied by medical doctors, neuroscientists, and psychologists. In psychology, mindfulness meditation has been found to be effective in treating symptoms associated with a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, borderline personality disorder, and in decreasing suicidal and self-harm behavior (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007; Grossman, Ivanoski & Malhi, 2007; Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004).

With time through this practice of becoming aware of present experience, people may become less judgmental and better able to experience things as they really are without distorting them with judgments, expectations, and biases. By ceasing to judge our experiences, we are able to become less defensive and less reactive and to tolerate unpleasant experiences. Focus on the present moment, as opposed to the past or future, is also a central quality of mindfulness practice. This attention to the present moment without judgment is the foundation of mindfulness practice. It produces a deep shift in how we think and how we experience the world.

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Quotes about Mindfulness

You shouldn’t chase after the past, or place expectations on the future. What is past is left behind. The future is as yet unreached. Whatever quality is present you clearly see right there.
– Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and freedom. 
- Viktor E. Frankl

Mindfulness is neither difficult nor complex; remembering to be mindful is the great challenge.
– Christine Feldman

It’s very helpful to realize that the emotions we have, the negativity and the positivity, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.
– Pema Chodron

When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is.
- Tara Brach

Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.
- Louis L’Amour

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